Since 2006 I have attended four NDP State Conventions. I missed one, in 2012, after the engine in my pickup mysteriously blew up the day before I was to leave for it. I have my tinfoil hat conspiracy theory to explain it, but more on that at a later time.
My involvement as an active participant within the NDP began as it probably will for many of you. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and trusting that everyone I would encounter had only the very best of intentions for being there as representatives of the people that elected them. We were, after all, Democrats, and we all shared the same goals, ideals, and hopes for the future.
Yeah, it didn't turn out quite as I expected. I could go on about that for hours, and I probably will ... later. The reason I am writing this is to help you all to avoid the pitfalls I encountered and to attend your first State Convention armed with the tools you need to be an effective delegate.
First of all, you have to get to the Convention as a delegate. To do that, you must attend your post-primary county convention and get yourself elected as a State Convention delegate. Depending on the number of delegates and alternates allocated to your county, through a rather complex algorithm, you will have a number reserved for those that caucused for Bernie or Hillary. Statewide, Bernie supporters should hold about 60%, and Hillary supporters about 40%, of all delegates at the State Convention. Of course, if you don't attend the Convention, then you've blown your opportunity to help your candidate and his or her supporters.
There are a couple of documents that you must read, comprehend, and adhere to. These are the rules that govern every activity that will be encountered at the State Convention. They are: The NDP Constitution and Bylaws, and the Nebraska Delegate Selection Plan. They aren't the most stimulating read that you'll have ever encountered, but it is imperative, if you are to be effective, to be intimately familiar with them. Take them in small bites.
The Convention will take place on Friday through Sunday, June 16-18, in Kearney. Much of what takes place on Friday is collateral damage, the time is filled with all kinds of committee meetings and introductions. Saturday is the day that really matters. This is the time for making resolutions to modify the NDP Constitution and Bylaws. These are the only rules that really matter. It is during that time that the changes you want to effect the party can be made. If you don't do them right, you'll have to wait a couple of years until another State Convention. Saturday is also when you will be electing party officers, members of the State Central Committee, your Congressional District Chair and Vice Chair, your representatives to a variety of standing committees, and approving the leadership of the Affiliated Caucuses. This will also be the day you elect delegates to the National Convention. Sunday is generally reserved for discussions about the Platform and Resolutions.
In my opinion, based on ten years of participation (as a county chair, Congressional District Vice Chair, State Central Committee delegate, Executive Committee delegate, and having served on a variety of standing committees) in the NDP, the Platform Committee is where they put you when they want to get you out of their hair. You can spend a lot of time arguing over what you think is important for the party, but, the way it has been done is, once the final gavel at the State Convention falls, the Platform and anyResolutions that have been agreed upon, usually following extended debate, are never heard from again. Concentrate your energies on getting your people elected to the available seats, for they will govern the party despite what the Platform and any Resolutions dictate.
As a side note, I would like to recommend that language be added to the NDP C&B that demands the resignation, or impeachment, of any NDP officer that fails to promote the Platform or deploy the party's Resolutions. The positions of responsibility within the party (note that I did not say, positions of authority) demand that those who represent us ... actually do so. The days of people just doing what they want in order to fulfill their own egotistical agendas must come to an end.
I am awaiting a copy of the NDP State Convention agenda so that I can offer even more assistance to you. Until then, read up on your Robert's Rules. The NDP uses them for controlling the meetings. The person holding the gavel is NOT allowed to comment on any resolutions that are before the body. The purpose of the person holding the gavel is only to see that the meeting goes forward in a smooth manner.